In addition to irrigation canals, the Colonial rule gave rise to inland navigation canals in India. The Buckingham Canal in the Coromandel Coast and the Canoly canal in the west coast are two such canals in South India constructed during 1800s. Both the canals rely upon inland freshwater systems for sustaining water levels. The Canoly Canal was studied with respect to physiographic factors based on satellite imagery and field observations. A topographical map was generated to understand the flow dynamics between the canal and the wetland system. The Canal connects two river estuaries and is oriented to intake water from two wetland systems, one of which is the Kottuli wetland system. The wetland covering an area of 87.04 hectares is rich in species of mangroves, mangrove associates, aquatic organisms and bird species. This wetland has been identified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, under National Wetland Conservation Programme. Surface flow of water from the wetlands into the canal is through weirs, while the shallow ground water seeps into the canal along the length. There exists a proposal to deepen the canal for rejuvenating inland water transport. The study finds that this move could result in draining out Kottuli wetlands, seriously impacting the groundwater table of the region, not to mention the loss of the wetland system as a whole. The study brings to light the situation of Pallikkaranai Wetlands in Chennai, which is similar to Kottuli Wetlands in the flow dynamics with respect to the canal.
Anjana Bhagyanathan, National Institute of Technology, India
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